20 knots before breakfast


06 Dec 2010                             If you have trouble reading this email CLICK HERE                    To reply to this email click here

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20 Knots Before Breakfast

Saturday morning began cold and clear in Seattle. Stars were visible at 0515 hours when my wife dropped me off at Shilshole Marine for the 20-mile delivery down to Tacoma for the Winter Vashon Race.

The plan was straightforward: Deliver the boat, sail the race, then deliver the boat back home. Little did any of us realize that the best sailing of the day would be on the delivery to Tacoma; an impressive statement, given that the race itself featured some fantastic sailing in its own rite, but that's a different story.

David Schmidt warm and dry  .. ©

Less than ten minutes after loosing our dock lines our mainsail is filled and the call is made to hoist the small spinnaker. Halyards jump, nylon sailcloth inflates, and my friend Jonathan's 44-foot, Paul Bieker-designed, water-ballasted, 'cruising boat' takes off, her carbon-fiber hull skimming across the building seas at 15 knots.

A few gybes and one ferry crossing later we enter the northern entrance to Colvos Passage, a place where the wind funnels and where the seas can get choppy. The puffs build and build, and Dark Star rockets along, her speedo reading punching up and up.

The order is given to move weight astern, and soon our crew of eight is perched along the stern pushpit as our helmsman, Eric, does a masterful job of playing puffs and avoiding floating logs. Water fire-hoses down the foredeck and the speedo climbs to the low 20 and hovers there as Dark Star scorches along, her entire crew one big smile.

Slowly, the sun rises illuminating the sweeping mountains in all directions.

We near the southern end of Colvos Passage and douse the kite, all of us aglow from our sleigh ride.

Yes, it was cold; yes it was wet; yes, a warm, waterproof pair of gloves were your best friend; yes it was one of the best sailing that any of us had done in a long, long time.

The best part? We haven't even had breakfast yet, let alone tucked into Jeff's homemade smoked-salmon chowder. Truly a magical day of doing what we all love best.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor

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